Residents voice concern about potential Palmerston development

MINTO – Three residents irked by the potential for condo development behind their homes here spoke up during council’s Aug. 17 meeting.

Sinclair Construction, a Palmerston-based home developer, sought approval for a minor frontage variance from town council.

The nearly two-acre commercially-zoned property at 485 Main Street East has a single detached home sitting on it, which Dan and Natasha Sinclair want severed to allow for renovation and resale.

But the severance wouldn’t comply with frontage requirements of 18 metres (59 feet).

“We ended up finding out on the survey that house was actually a little bit close to the property line, that we required three metres to a [newly] created property line and I didn’t really want to tear the house down; I know it’s a small house but it’s actually in pretty good shape,” Dan Sinclair told council.

“The front highway commercial portion, in dividing these properties, it’s going to make it more affordable for businesses to potentially buy the house and rent it for a couple of years while they plan on what they want to do or they could always have a garage put on it to run an automotive business or whatever they want to do and live in the existing home.”

Council approved a minor variance allowing for a reduced frontage of 15 metres (49 feet), satisfying zoning compliance required to move forward with the severance application.


But it wasn’t the minor variance residents had concerns with.

“I [understood] when we bought this property that nothing was going to happen behind us,” Diana Long told councillors, saying an unrelated builder had charged them a premium for the lot.

Long and others who voiced their apprehension to council reside along seven lots backing onto the Sinclair property from Bridge Crescent, a recent residential development.

Sinclair admitted there were concerns from “homeowners in the back” but he was adamant he isn’t “trying to do anything wrong” and mentioned the space had been zoned as commercial for some time.

Minto planning technician Ashley Sawyer confirmed, saying it had been rezoned from industrial to commercial in 2011.

“I’m just trying to make more use of the property … we actually have a concept drawing … of the property and it’s going to have two 6,000-square-foot buildings on it with some commercial in it and they’re going to be three-level buildings,” Sinclair said.

“The first and second storey would be residential dwellings with elevators that could be sold as condos and potentially get more housing in Palmerston which we need very much.”

Long said she was told by the other developer, from which she purchased her lot, there would be no development behind it.

“If I understand correctly, we could have condos behind us?” she asked councillors.

“That’s a possibility,” Mayor and adjustment committee chair George Bridge responded.

“Do we go after the builder or like what … this is totally unacceptable,” Long said.

Resident Delyth Dolman said, “I want to echo a lot of what Diana said … I have a little bit concern regarding what eventually will go in there.

“I know that we will have some input; what my concern is, is that Dan Sinclair has said that he’s lived in Palmerston for all his life, he’s very in touch with the people around us, but I also know that potentially could be sold to another developer.”

Resident Bruce Forbes spoke up next, saying he and his wife were in the same position as Dolman and Long.

“We do not have any backyard, because our backyard is inclined for drainage … at least we have something that we could look back out on and now all of a sudden if we’re going to have the buildings back here, I don’t think to us, that’s not acceptable,” Forbes said.

“[It’s] not the council, not Dan, it’s we were led to believe that there will be nothing here behind us and now it’s not happening.”

This Google Earth image capture in 2019 illustrates the Bridge Cres properties abutting the commercially zoned Sinclair property facing Main Street in Palmerston. (Google Earth image)


Before the commercially zoned property is built on, there’s a process to go through involving public feedback from nearby residents along with review from the town and county before a site plan would be approved.

It would also be at the site plan stage where other property limits such as buffering, setbacks and parking would be addressed.

According to Sawyer, there are no development plans the town has yet seen.

Sinclair said there are currently no plans for development within the “next few years.”

“I want the homeowners to know … I’ve done projects through the municipality, I’ve lived here my whole life,” he said.

“Any of the site plan applications that go forward they always go to the abutting landowners as well and they all have the right to say what they want.

“I obviously don’t want you to be uncomfortable living there.”